3 ways U of Vermont Medical Center slashed HAIs

Dramatic reductions in healthcare associated infections (HAIs) have earned the University of Vermont Medical Center the national Partnership in Prevention Award, the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) announced.

The award, given by APIC, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America (SHEA), recognized the Burlington, Vermont hospital for the following accomplishments:

  • Reducing central line-associated bloodstream infections (CLABI) in the medical intensive care unit by 77 percent by 2013, and further reducing rates from 2.72 infections per 1,000 central-line days to 0.33 per 1,000 between July 2013 and July 2014. 
  • Creating two surgeon-directed initiatives that cut knee and hip replacement infection rates by 81 percent and surgical site infections for orthopedic spinal fusions by 62 percent. The last infection following a total knee replacement surgery was in November 2010.
  • Working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Dialysis Bloodstream Infection Prevention Collaborative to slash CLABI at outpatient dialysis centers by 83 percent.

HAIs, also known as hospital-acquired infections, kill nearly 75,000 patients per year, according to APIC. The 562-bed academic medical center encourages collaboration across disciplines, among other measures to build an anti-infection culture, and a team of infection-control advocates from across the hospital.

 "UVM Medical Center addressed HAIs at every level and throughout its care settings, achieving tremendous results," APIC President Jennie L. Mayfield, BSN, MPH, said in a statement. " Their organization-wide achievements serve as an excellent model for other facilities seeking to reduce healthcare-associated infections. "

HAIs now cost hospitals financial penalties from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. In Florida, 31 hospitals faced penalties totaling $330 million from July 2014 through July 2015. Alaska's four largest hospitals were expected to lose $1.2 million in total. Nearly five dozen hospitals in Texas' largest cities paid penalties as well.

Among the suggestions for reducing infections caused by cross-contamination, thoracic surgeon Douglas McConnell, M.D., called for hospitals to exceed manufacturer recommendations for cleaning reusable products, use more single-use devices and regularly update policies and protocols for avoiding cross-contamination.

For more information:
- here's the announcement
- check out the award presentation (.pdf)
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